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Angela Merkel saved the West She realised fast what all people eventually learn

As the sun sets on her reign, Mutti's reputation is untarnished. Credit: TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP via Getty Images

As the sun sets on her reign, Mutti's reputation is untarnished. Credit: TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP via Getty Images


September 27, 2021   5 mins

I would happily bet my house that by the time you read this article, about 73% of Germans will have voted for four parties, all of whom are pro-EU, pro-NATO, and able to form coalitions in any combination. The old Stalinist left and the neo-Nazi right, who will together have got around 18%, can shout as loudly as they want from the old East, which will be, as it always is, the only place where either gets a truly significant vote. So even if Angela Merkel’s own CDU isn’t the largest party any longer (and it will be much closer than recent polls suggested), she will have won.

How so? Because she has saved her one true love: the West. The real, European West, that is, not the “West” of wild, freebooting Ayn Rand-style fantasies which burst out when Communism fell (remember those “Ulster Scots” values which Anglosphere scribes so adored in the early 1990s? Remember Steve Bannon and his “we are all Leninists” ravings?). She understood what the West really means.

How could she not, with her life story? Unlike almost everyone else in East Germany, she was there not because of bad luck and barbed wire. Her father, a pastor, moved of his own free will from Hamburg to the East shortly after her birth in 1954, becoming a senior figure in the Lutheran Church there. This is less surprising than it sounds because the Lutherans, with their strict demarcation of worldly and spiritual realms (meaning that in practice they never seriously criticise the state) have been welcome helpmeets to rulers in eastern Germany ever since the Teutonic Knights embraced Luther, broke with Rome and founded their very own new state: Prussia.

The Wall went up when she was seven. She must have grown up knowing that she could have been a West German. As a distinctly talented young scientist working within the insane ideological bounds of Marxism-Leninism, she must have felt every day, directly, the effects of Papa Merkel’s deluded utopianism. At 35, she lived the triumph of the West not only as simple, literal freedom but also as mental freedom, at last, from the structural mendacity into which millennial ideas inevitably descend.

She swiftly embraced the CDU, that quintessentially western German party, directly descended from the Catholic Centre Party which had been founded specifically to oppose Bismarck’s Prussianisation of the West. It understands, and she understood, that the historical uniqueness of “the West” is not untrammelled, individual “freedom” but the principle that deals are cut and power shared between great institutions, neither of which will ever yield total domination to the other. This paradigm — the ultimate guarantee of freedom — goes back to 754AD, when Europe was rebooted from the Dark Ages in the great bargain of St Denis: the Frankish dynasty got the sanction of Rome, while the Church got worldly lands and Germanic muscle to defend it. Ever since, call it what you will — Church and State, King and Parliament, Checks and Balances — the principle stands against every heady fantasy, Left or Right, of some perfect society.

This is the key to Merkel’s instinct for seeking out the centre ground. She realised fast and early what all sane people eventually learn: that noisy idealism is not a virtue, but a curse, and that quiet, deal-making realism is not the absence of conviction, but its pure expression. No political lesson could be more different from the dire mix of grandstanding in the moment and backstabbing in the dark which our own Big Beasts learn in the gilded testosterone snake-pits of Eton and the Oxford Union.

Yes, she has been very lucky. It is almost comical now to recall the way that under Helmut Kohl, Germany was regularly written off by triumphant Anglosphere pundits as a dead weight on the European economy and even (declared The Economist in June 1999), “the sick man of Europe”. All that was changed by the Social Democratic/Green governments of 1998-2005, who modernised things in a thoroughly Blairite way (they even called their new, and far less generous, social security offices “Job Centres”, in English, by way of blatant homage).

And yes, she made breathtaking mistakes. Her 2011 decision to close all of Germany’s nuclear power stations in the wake of Fukushima was either a kneejerk reaction, or a cunning plan to win over Germany’s Green voters. The need to replace nuclear led her to keep filthy brown coal power stations open and to support the Nordstrom gas pipeline which feeds German industry’s maw directly from Russia. As a result, Germany is incredibly vulnerable to energy blackmail from Moscow, Putin’s regime has been mightily succoured, and the average German citizen now produces getting on for twice as much atmospheric carbon as the average Frenchman or Brit.

When she unilaterally decided in autumn 2015 to open Germany (and thereby, in practice, Europe) to mass immigration from the Middle East and elsewhere, one can only imagine that she was trying to recapture the moral high ground from the likes of Yanis Varoufakis, who had been telling the world that in the wake of the financial crash she was acting like some kind of economic Nazi (images of Merkel sporting a Hitler moustache were seen all over southern Europe and even in Ireland).

As the rest of Europe predictably failed to follow her high-minded, high-handed lead, Germany seemed for a while to be tottering on the edge of serious public discontent: just think back to 2016 and 2017, when gloomy liberals and delighted Trump-and-Brexit boosters were both intoning that the AfD was going to break out from its base in the old East Germany and tear into the CDU. Some in Merkel’s party itself were proclaiming that the only way to survive was to “close off the right flank” (die rechte Flanke schliessen) — i.e., adopt the AfD’s policies.

History must have been in the mood to make things pretty obvious for once, since it has given us the most perfect mathematical example of how, and how not, to deal with loud-mouthed populism. In 2017, the AfD won 12.6% of the national vote. That is, of course, exactly the same as Ukip won here in 2015. And look now at the tale of these two conservative parties.

The spineless David Cameron felt besieged by the people who eminent Tory predecessors had called “bastards” (John Major) and like “some demented Marxist sect” (Douglas Hurd) — and who he himself allegedly called “swivel-eyed loons”. So he rolled over and gave them the referendum he didn’t want himself, and which was the only way they would ever be able to enact their anti-EU, Anglosphere fantasies. He was blithely sure he would win, and hence become unchallengeable.

The stout Angela Merkel thought otherwise: I have twice been told by a German insider (I can’t name him, but he is undoubtedly of the status to have been the eyewitness he says he was) that at the 2015 G7 meeting at Schloss Elmau, Merkel, Cameron’s best friend in Europe, personally begged him not to hold his utterly needless referendum and “throw away 800 years of parliamentary rule”. But what? Have patience? See things quietly through? Make a rational, cross-party deal for what the vast majority of MPs on both sides agreed was the good of the country? Not he. If Angela Merkel had been Germany’s David Cameron, God alone knows where we would now be.

Instead, she stuck to her guns. She toughed it out. She refused point blank to trim her course in order to pick up AfD voters, or ever to countenance any form of coalition with the populist Right, even when siren voices urged it. The result is that the AfD, far from making any further advances into the old German West, is retreating even in its eastern fastnesses.

She may have made her mistakes, but when the healing sleep of time (as Goethe called it in Faust) has washed away her quotidian errors, she will be remembered as the leader who carried the CDU, not the other way around, and who saved the West in its hour of trial. And as she leaves the stage, irrespective of which coalition Germany ends up with, she will be able to say, like a German Mr Chips, “I thought I heard you — one of you — saying it was a pity Mutti never had any children 
 eh? 
 But I have, you know 
 I have 
 look, thousands of them – and all of them decent Western Centrists!”

Ave et vale, Angela Merkel, and thank God you were there when we needed you.


James Hawes’s The Shortest History of Germany is out in over 20 countries. The Shortest History of England is just out.

 

jameshawes2

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Luke I
Luke I
2 years ago

Does this article actually name anything good that Merkel achieved? Is her only positive legacy posited that she didn’t hold a referendum for a “German Brexit”? Why would the Germans want to leave the EU, when they are almost the only people who benefit from the Euro?
The few “mistakes” she has made might be her only legacy, steering Germany and Europe in an almost invariably negative direction:

  • Economic extremism in the Financial and Eurozone crises, decimating Greece’s chance for debt restructure and growth
  • The insane destruction of Nuclear energy
  • The migrant crisis and its ripples throughout so many other European countries that were never asked about her policy
  • Nordstrom2, and the destruction of Germany (and likely the EU’s) geopolitical ability to stand up to Russia
  • The driving of the EU-China Mutual Investment pact and continuing economic entanglement with China

What has she done that’s actually “Preserved the West”, or if she is such a champion as made out in this article: Advanced the West?
All she has is a record where she sat upon growing GDP: export-driven GDP resulting from an undervalued currency for the Germans. The damage an overvalued currency did to the non-Germans of the Eurozone would surely be compensated by, oh wait… Merkel says ‘no’ to helping countries whose potential for growth she pilfered. What a legacy.

Niels Georg Bach
Niels Georg Bach
2 years ago
Reply to  Luke I
  • The lack of IT modernization of Germany
  • – Under the covid crises the basic mean of communication Hospitals and doctors in between was a FAX
  • – the infrastructure in schools and home couldn’t handle homeschooling
  • – Mobile internet is lacking in parts of Germany.
Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago

And an army which barely merits the name, and which pledges to any new recruits that they will never be forced to fight in combat.

John Cole
John Cole
2 years ago
Reply to  Eddie Johnson

Your joking surely? The Germany army isn’t obliged to actually fight?
Explains why they are issued broomhandles,I suppose.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  John Cole

Their latest promo videos explicitly state that young recruits will not be forced to fight – a sort of woke, combat-averse army.
Poor old Putin must be beside himself with anxiety.

Last edited 2 years ago by Eddie Johnson
Sean Penley
Sean Penley
2 years ago
Reply to  Eddie Johnson

This does, in an odd way, make me feel sorry for Putin. How is he supposed to use the imaginary threat of vile Western invasions for political capital when said Western governments are promising recruits they won’t have to fight? It makes an autocrat’s job near impossible (unless they thought ahead and took control of the press), and Germany should feel ashamed for the trouble they’ve put him through.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
2 years ago
Reply to  Luke I

Indeed. Mr Hawes is usually a sharp observer of Germany but he is here being overly sentimental about “Mutti”! One might add that (united) Germany has only ever had one truly great Chancellor, namely Bismarck.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago

Is this piece an ingenious spoof?

the principle that deals are cut and power shared between great institutions, neither of which will ever yield total domination to the other

Eh? What else is the aim of the EU, if not total domination?

When she unilaterally decided in autumn 2015 to open Germany (and thereby, in practice, Europe) to mass immigration from the Middle East and elsewhere

Unilaterally. Where was the democracy there? Where a thought for the self-determination of other countries? Where the concern for the West she so loves?

the most perfect mathematical example of how, and how not, to deal with loud-mouthed populism. In 2017, the AfD won 12.6% of the national vote. That is, of course, exactly the same as Ukip won here in 2015.

So, mumbling of the game he dare not bite, Ukip and AfD are the same thing? Nice one.

personally begged him not to hold his utterly needless referendum and “throw away 800 years of parliamentary rule”.

Throwing away 800 of parliamentary rule was not what Cameron did, that was what Heath did, when he dragged us (with no democratic mandate, which some old-fashioned types might associate with parliamentary democracy) into the Common Market.

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago

When the politicians join forces to override the will of the people is when the problems occur.

This article is just Remoaner sour-grapes, which coming six years after the referendum is pretty sad.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt M
Aldo Maccione
Aldo Maccione
2 years ago

Being a shrewd politician, looking for consensus and averages, is not being a stateswoman.
I resent the implication that the “west” should be defined by this centrist, opportunistic, vote-hunting professional politician, without any proper values beyond the next elections.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

A few mistakes! The closure of Germany’s entire nuclear industry (screw global warming!), the illegal importation of a million migrants on her whim, without any of those pesky institutional checks and balances the author claims to laud (they are presumably only there to stop Brexit, or Trump or something), and making Germany a client state of Russia. Some mistakes!

So Merkel’s main claim to fame is her opposition to giving people the vote on major issues changing their entire nation’s character, aka ‘populism’.

As for the claim that David Cameron had thrown away 800 years of Parliamentary sovereignty, that is absolute nonsense, since the UK had had several referenda before, including on EEC membership and most recently on Scottish independence.

Hawes is an ardent Remainer, a view he is entitled to, but he should have the grace to admit that Germany is by far the biggest beneficiary of that organisation, particularly because of currency valuation. Germany has been notably ‘uncommunitairre’ with regards to helping other members economically. It was of course the major player in the economic / political diktat issued to Greece, in complete opposition to democratic process.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago

“Ave et vale, Angela Merkel, and thank God you were there when we needed you.”
I finished reading this 15 minutes ago.
My skin is still crawling.

Last edited 2 years ago by Terry Needham
Toby Bray
Toby Bray
2 years ago

Saved the West by:
(a) having China as Germany’s largest trading partner,
(b) being beholden to Putin for gas supplies,
(c) contributing next to nothing to defence/NATO (happy to rely on the US, whilst endlessly criticising it),
d) encouraging the immigration crisis from the Middle East.
Yup, great job.

Last edited 2 years ago by Toby Bray
Bill W
Bill W
2 years ago
Reply to  Toby Bray

My feelings entirely. Well said.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Toby Bray

Spot on. What annoys me is that Germans always pride themselves on their generous provision of “relief aid” and humanitarian missions usually by the Bundeswehr in many of the world’s conflict regions, including, for example, Afghanistan.
What remains unsaid, of course, is that without the nasty Yanks, Brits and French providing the necessary military protection, ie. doing the dirty work and keeping the bad guys at bay, they wouldn’t be able to set foot in some of these places.
But, as you rightly say, this doesn’t stop them from taking the high moral ground and criticising their “war-mongering” allies.

Last edited 2 years ago by Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago

She is certainly an impressive politician, but I can’t quite share the author’s effusive paean to her record in office or her “legacy”, especially as the CDU just recorded their worst election result in history, for which she must carry full responsibility.
Before she opened the borders to over a million unregistered immigrants and refugees in the autumn of 2015, the single-issue, anti-EU AfD was facing political oblivion.
Yet despite losing a share of the vote last night, they are, as one commentator put it on DLF this morning, now an established part of the German political landscape, and won the largest share of the vote in the east German state of Saxony. Vielen Dank, Mutti.
And, as last night’s results confirmed, the progressive “social-democratisation” of the CDU over the past 16 years under her rule, saw the party going into the elections with a serious identity problem.
Although nominally party chairperson, Merkel never identified with Conservative policies or the centre-right, and positioned herself more as leader of an all-encompassing “pan-German party”, whilst, at the same time, steering the party subtly, but inexorably towards the “green-washed” Left. (Boris, take note.)
Similarly, her ruthless excision of any potential rivals over the years, has denuded the CDU of any charismatic successors – also another Merkel legacy.
Thus the sympathetic, but uninspiring Laschet took over a party which had in effect been gutted of virtually all of its traditional core principles and philosophy, and which has no viable notion of what it actually stood for.
And a measure of how far the CDU has shifted to the Left can be gauged by the fact that Scholz, the SPD candidate, was casting himself as the natural successor to Merkel’s “legacy” during the campaign. Successfully, as it appears.
And only the author of this puff piece will be able to explain what possessed her to render Germany largely energy-dependent upon one of the West’s most hostile adversaries, namely Putin’s Russia, whose expressed aim is to destabilize liberal West democracies. Nochmals vielen Dank, Mutti.
Given the interminable nature of Coalition negotiations in Germany, however, I suspect, that Mutti is going to be around as caretaker Chancellor until at least Christmas.
So she’s not gone yet.

Last edited 2 years ago by Eddie Johnson
Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
2 years ago

I was at the Battle of Ideas a few years back and attended a talk on the voting system. One of the speakers was an advocate PR. When the floor was opened to questions and comments the first three were all from Germans all making the same point. That in Germany under PR (and yes I know the voting system is little more complex than that) no matter who you vote for, you get the same government. German is ruled by technocrats, for whom elections are irrelevant.

Take away Germany’s prosperity, bought largely by Europe’s rigged financial system in recent years and German would be likely as politically volatile as Italy or France.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

She was fortunate in having a very compliant media, which during this election campaign conveniently avoided broaching any controversial issues such as immigration.

Last edited 2 years ago by Eddie Johnson
Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
2 years ago

Mutti’s had a lot of stick over the last few months so I welcome a different perspective on her. Unfortunately for all of us, this article isn’t it. Luke posts elsewhere below “Does this article actually name anything good that Merkel achieved?”, which is a sentiment shared by a Teutophile couple we know who visit regularly.
Is there not a journalist anywhere that can given us a decent article on an EU issue without descending into barely concealed bitterness over our departure? 
Most of my specific issues with the article will be covered by others, so will just highlight one section on the migrant crisis. “One can only imagine that she was trying to recapture the moral high ground from the likes of Yanis Varoufakis…telling the world that … she was acting like some kind of economic Nazi”.
Nice try James but – cobblers. Yanis is not everybody’s pint of Oktoberfest but he has put himself out for questions, arguments etc over a long period now and I have never heard him use language like that. The main reason is the more obvious one; the EU failed to act quickly to foresee the crisis and the problem was on Germany’s doorstep as it unfolded faster than the EU could respond (which is becoming a theme). Two options for Merkel – armed units at the border to repel incoming or turn it into an opportunity for virtue. Not so much a mistake, as an impossible judgement call forced by EU leaden footedness, and Schengen did the rest.
The energy mistake cannot be dismissed that lightly. It’s a howler by any measure. But James would prefer to bang on about Farage, Cameron, Tories and a referendum that was agreed by a huge majority in the House of Commons, which tells a lot as to where this author is coming from. Is that how Merkel saved the West? By not being Nigel Farage?
Now on the plus side, Merkel does possess, in abundance, the soft skills crucial to success as a politician. Example, she can expand open-cast mining in the Hambach Forest, without Greta camping on her doorstep. And is better at deporting uninvited/unwanted guests than us – “despite Brexit” – without attracting the sort of attention that we would get. 
UK’s departure is EU’s opportunity to get serious about speeding up closer union (see Aris’s article) without the awkward Brits getting in the way. How’s that going right now? What role might Germany be playing in this? How will the Merkel’s policy of energy dependence on Russia play out, with an inexperienced leader in charge? Why isn’t James more interested in giving us an article on that?
A final general point on journalist standards. You’d think I could get an article on the above from “New European”, but the last one I saw was either salivating over Biden or telling me that Boris is a lying, far right fascist. So let’s look to Aris’s article elsewhere on Unherd as template for a proper article on Merkel – in that it at least makes it’s point without descending into snarkiness, bitterness and hysteria about what, love or hate it, was a moment of UK democracy in action over 5 years ago. 
We subscribe to learn, discuss, understand, be entertained – not to get told off. Maybe give Aris the nod to do the “Case for Angela Merkel” article next time?

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

Excellent riposte.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
2 years ago

I never disagreed with an Unherd article so much as the one above. Merkel was a disaster for her country and her Party(Energiewende, braking the Maastricht Treaty, opened Germany’s doors to over 1 1/2 million migrants, most of whom still require huge state subsidies, and finally the CDU becoming a Green/Social Democratic Party, moving to the left of the political middle). The CDU/CSU went from over 40% at the beginning of Merkel’s “reign” to the low twenties ( Adenauer and Erhard rolling in their graves). She totally abandoned the concerned middle classes and “Mittelstand” .
The AFD was founded by economics professors in the West of Germany, who were very concerned about the endless Euro bail-outs, a currency, which is too high for Southern Europe and too low for the North. The AFD eventually lurched to the right (again exaggerated calling the whole Party NAZIs ) and became a more anti-migration and anti-Euro/EU party similar to the Brexit Party. The problem with the AfD is, that they have a mix of Libertarian minded politicians and a more patriotic, anti- migration wing. But the party’s migration policy is along the line of the Canadian immigration law. Of course as in many new( and sometimes old)parties, there are the odd nutcases.
Amazing that the party stayed in double digits last night, as the whole of German MSM called it extremely right wing from its early foundation, when they just doubted the benefits of a single currency for Europe. In the last 4 years, although the main opposition party in Parliament , they were shunned at TV or Radio discussions, maligned by the MSM, had their cars burnt and one of their MPs badly beaten at the night.
If the CDU could get half of the disenchanted middle class voters back, not only from AfD, but also from other small parties, it would bounce back to 30 or 40% as it was before Merkel arrived.
For the AfD it was a miracle, that, with all the abuse, they could still retain a double digit win.
But the Green Party, which was under 10% in the 2017 Election, got feted by the German State TV. No discussions without them. Finally they were invited to take part in 3 way TV discussions as possible provider of a new German Chancellor. How much more biased can you get. Also in the end, it didn’t help that the Greens had a terrible female candidate, who faked her CV and has stumbled at every opportunity. Yesterday the result for The Green Party was 14.7%, just 2% more than the AfD in 2017.

Last edited 2 years ago by Stephanie Surface
Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago

Excellent comment.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

Her decision to close all of Germany’s nuclear power stations n the wake of Fukushima? Yes, that’ll be in the wake of the tsunami. Of 2011. A knee-jerk reaction? I think so.
It was the power of instant imagery, from Japan. The images were truly devastating, on an unbelievable scale. But Germany does not experience tsunamis. And Japan is a mountainside island, so it is bound to have all or nearly all its nuclear power stations on the coast, or very near it, unlike Germany.
I believe Germany has backtracked on that very mystifying 2011 decision since, however. I just could not understand it at the time.

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
2 years ago

I am trying to work out whether this reporter is actually being serious or whether this article is a spoof. Never in the field of political conflict has so little been achieved by one so long in office.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rob Britton
Bill W
Bill W
2 years ago

Us Brexiteers have a lot to thank first Cameron and then Merkel for. But for him giving us the referendum and her contemptuous treatment of him, the nation might not have escaped the EU which, to correct Muti, went against 800 years of Parliamentary history.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
2 years ago

“In 2017, the AfD won 12.6% of the national vote. That is, of course, exactly the same as Ukip won here in 2015. And look now at the tale of these two conservative parties.”
Well… yes, look at it. AfD still on double figures in the latest election, whereas UKIP (sorry Brexit (sorry Reform)) are… where exactly?
“The leader…who saved the West in its hour of trial.” Must have been on my lunch break that hour because for the life of me I’ve got no idea what he’s referring to there.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago

This article is a joke isn’t it? She is the John Major of Germany, failing to take her country forward and deferring increasingly intractable problems for her successors.

At least Major only got away with it for five years

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

The rash decision by Merkel in 2011, immediately after Fukushima and the tsunami, to close Germany’s nuclear power stations, was bizarre. Germany is not in an earthquake or tsunami zone. Japan is surrounded by sea. I think there has been a back-track since. But in light of the powerful, devastating imagery of the tsunami it is not an unexpected reaction in today’s world, to act as if one was there. Such is the effect of the HD instant imagery in our world today.

Which makes me wonder about the re-emergence of talk of the guilt Germans feel for what their country did in the 1930s and 1940s. Is it still necessary after so much effort and goodwill was put into Germany’s rehabilitation by Germans themselves, from the 1960s to the 1990s? Is it a reaction to the internet age, when young people can watch, in an instant, so many mind-numbing documentaries on those who came to power in January 1933, in the palm of their hand, and in colour, too? Rather than guilt, is it mere embarrassment?
The ubiquity of the imagery of violence must be affecting us more than we know. Or is Germany being simply more realistic, attuned to the current fast-changing environment, acting now, to get the message across, in order to ward off greater problems that will come with inaction?
Technology can be a menace. But like nuclear, it can be good.

Paul Hughes
Paul Hughes
2 years ago

Sorry – when who needed her exactly?

John Cole
John Cole
2 years ago

I read this twice in case it was very subtle satire, unfortunately it isn’t.

John Hicks
John Hicks
2 years ago

Goodness! What a really silly article. The bit about Mr. Chips, intended as some triumphal chord of farewell for any National leader, particularly one widely applauded as a dud, is pretty creepy.

robert stowells
robert stowells
2 years ago

For me any governing system which is ideologically driven tends to become an overbearing construct and into this category I would place both Communist Russia (USSR) and the EU. The development of the EU in terms of a definite co-operative unit should have stopped at the stage of being a trading block. That is the reality of where humanity is still presently at and the Capitalism of the West, which is based pretty much on trade, reflects that. I believe we should only “bind” that which needs to be “bound”.  

Last edited 2 years ago by robert stowells
Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

Like a German Mr Chips? The inspirational teacher and molder of lives? That’ll be from the 1939 movie Goodbye Mr Chips, starring the great Robert Donat as Mr Chips. He beat Clark Gable (in the running with his lead role in Gone With The Wind) to the best-actor Oscar. So at that G7 meeting at Schloss Elmau, when Mrs Chips begged Rhett Butler, aka David Cameron, to not go ahead with his utterly, futile, needless referendum and throw everything away, he must have as good as answered; “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
And off he went. But 
. the Oscar went to Angela Merkel. She had the last laugh. So there.
(You never see Goodbye Me Chips anymore on TV. My DVD copy has German subtitles as an option. So if this article is read in Germany, they’ll know what the writer here means. In Britain today, they’ll guess Mr Chips was a character out of ‘Allo ‘Allo, probably.)

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago

Yes you do and it is shown regularly

Bill W
Bill W
2 years ago

Agreed. Both film versions. And there was a TV version with Martine Clunes some years ago.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

I must admit to knowing very little of Angela Merkel or the complexities of German politics, but nonetheless I can see a few glaring errors above. Firstly the straw man / non-sequitur about untrammelled personal liberty vs dispersal of institutional power: this silly and transparent rhetorical device fails to fool anyone I’m guessing: there is no dichotomy or tension between personal freedom and the fact that personal freedom thrives via institutional plurality. Even the most libertarian of people (me included) understand that the dispersal of political power across multiple insititutions is the principle means by which power never concentrates in one place to the inevitable cost of individual liberty.

Nor is such an insight the property of European freedom as opposed to the Anglosphere: Friedrich Hayek is a founding father of Anglocentric libertarianism, and it simply isn’t true that a peculiarily British public school alternative model for liberty exists or competes with the model decribed above (there are obviously plently of illiberal political models about of course, but they are not under discussion here).

However, the article also suffers from a conceit, namely that this institutional plurality in question persists unchallenged and supreme (whether by Merkel’s hand or otherwise). The whole of the West is presently living through a severe challenge to the principle of institutional plurality, with what looks to be quite obvious attempts to eradicate the dispersal effect in question. One good example is the institution of Church and State separation: this is very obviously under attack, with persistent attempts to confiscate moral authority from the Churches and place in the political domain. Gay marriage is a good example of this, and it doesn’t matter whether you happen to agree with gay marriage or not, what cannot be denied is that it became institutionally legitimate via political means in the teeth of opposition from the Churches, where the question would have been settled up until lately.

It is also clear that the balance of influence is changing, with huge amounts of power and influence lately flowing to social media corporations in ways that are very obviously distorting the traditional exercise of political power. So what, many people might say, but there is an important concern here, which is that it matters when power moves from areas where its exercise comes with accountability to areas where accountability is lacking, and it is undeniable that this process has happened and continues.

So, what basis is there to claim that Angela Merkel has somehow saved the West, when the primary basis for such a claim relates to a system of checks and balances is presently under threat? On the matter of the EU, well it’s basically an authoritarian nationalist federal superstate that explicitly aims to supplant nation-state democracy. This is only not an elephant in the room where this article is concerned because an elephant isn’t large enough to make the point. Mammoth? Dinotherium? Blue whale? No matter; to claim that Merkel deserves credit for saving Western liberty in this context is laughable.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Riordan
Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

I suppose Angela Merkel’s pragmatic, deal-making, compromising skills were shown to best advantage in her dealings with David Cameron. She explained that even the smallest concession to British concerns was out of the question, that she was a busy woman with other things to deal with and that he would be well advised to fall in line and stop making trouble.

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
2 years ago

This article is obviously based on Remoanerism!

The Conservative voters that Major and Cameron hated were never going to accept being ruled by nit-picking Europeans’ rules. We’re a freedom-loving nation.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ann Ceely
Edit Szegedi
Edit Szegedi
2 years ago

Prussia or rather Brandenburg-Prussia was Calvinist, when it became a major political player. So, if you want to understand Prussia, read something about Calvinism (the real Calvinism not that theological-political myth created in the 19th century).

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

Now that’s a lot of chippy comments. Tied together it seems by nothing other than their common authorship.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
2 years ago

How the f56k does giving the Great British Electorate the say in on who rules the UK, throwing away parliamentary democracy.

And the German f56kwit has no room to even hint that others are undemocratic when she was the POS who threw open the doors of Europe and thus the borders of the EU member nations to hordes of economic migrants and probable terrorists and other violent criminals.

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
2 years ago

Thank you, James, for your analysis. This yank has trouble understanding Euro and Brit politics, but I get by with a little help from me UnHerd friends.
At the very least, the afD, having been pushed back into the shadows, is a favorable accomplishment for Frau Merkl, especially in Deutchsland; that is quite an accomplishment.